From Archbishop Rowan, 28 September 2000
Dear Dr. Pitt,
"...This will have to be a relatively brief response to your very substantial question, but I hope it may suggest a few avenues. Until about 1980, I fully shared the traditional ethical understanding of homosexuality as a condition of (at best) some sort of ‘privation’, the practice of which was strictly forbidden to Christians by scripture and tradition.This certainly is an interesting insight into The Archbishop of Canterbury's thoughts at least in 2000, on this very pertinent issue which the Anglican Communion has been facing.
My mind was unsettled by contact, as a university teacher, with one of two genuinely serious Christians who had concluded after prayer and reflections that the Scriptural prohibitions were addressed to heterosexuals looking for sexual variety in their experience; but that the Bible does not address the matter of appropriate behaviour for those who are, for whatever reason, homosexual by instinct of nature .
...By the end of the 80’s I had definitely come to the conclusion that scripture was not dealing with the predicament of persons whom we should recognise as homosexual by nature. And many of the arguments assumed by theologians in the Middle Ages and later increasingly seemed to beg questions or to rest on contested grounds. I concluded that an active sexual relationship between two people of the same sex might therefore reflect the love of God in a way comparable to marriage, if and only if it had about it the same character of absolute covenanted faithfulness...I was not convinced by the argument that the ethics for homosexual relations should be different from those for heterosexuals ...But it is now a very much politicised question, with many treating it as the sole or primary marker of Christian orthodoxy.
I find myself personally in a difficult situation, between the pressures of the clear majority view in my Church, my own theological convictions on this matter (as someone who has no desire at all to overthrow the authority of scripture here, but wants to ask if it has been rightly read on this matter) and the complex needs of individuals for pastoral counsel and support. I don’t see myself as a campaigner for a new morality; but if I’m asked for my views as a theologian rather than a church leader, I have to be honest and admit that they are as I’ve said.
One last point. The Church has shifted its stance on several matters ¬¬– notably the rightness of lending money at interest (condemned outright in the Old Testament and by all theologians before the seventeenth century) and the moral admissibility of contraception (generally denounced by the Anglican Church up to the middle of the twentieth century) so I am bound to ask if this is another such issue. If I am really seriously wrong on this, I can only pray to be shown the truth. I’d ask simply that Christians might be a little more ready than they seem to accept the good faith of those who have to a different conclusion..."